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Fringe-hugger Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh was the best the GOP could do?

I was surprised to hear Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh say in January, in announcing to an assembly of eastern Connecticut Republicans her plans to run for Congress from the 2nd District, that she was invited into the race by the Republican State Central Committee.

"Two months ago, state central approached me," Hopkins-Cavanagh said then.

How strange, I thought. They asked someone to run for Congress who has never held public office, a failed New London mayoral candidate who got only 96 votes out of 4,500 cast in that race.

Most people knew Cavanagh as the sore loser who badgered the new mayor and anyone else who disagreed with her in the public comment sections of news sites after her unsuccessful electoral debut.

I literally had to back away from her on one occasion, a fundraiser at Mohegan Sun, when she launched into a tirade about how The Day cost her the mayoral election and discriminated against her because she is a woman.

Sure, the newspaper has some clout. But I doubt The Day cost her all 4,400 lost New London votes.

One good example I found of the difficulty some people find in getting along with Hopkins-Cavanagh was a transcript from a court case in which her lawyer, her second in the case, pleaded with a judge to be allowed to drop her as a client.

"I believe this client wants me, if I was in this case to do things in the trial, or I should say present the tenor of her case, that I would find as inappropriate and unethical based on the information that I know," the lawyer told the court, in the Oct. 14, 2003, hearing.

Hopkins-Cavanagh said in the same hearing she could prove ethics was not the reason he was seeking to withdraw, but did not elaborate on her proof.

"I would like him to withdraw his appearance not using the excuse of ethics," she told the court.

But it is her far-out fringe positions on issues, more than her often abrasive public personality, that made me wonder even more why Republicans chose to endorse her at their convention last spring, over some other contenders.

Sure, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, the Democrat who has not only been bringing home the bacon, but generations of hogs, in new submarine contracts, will be hard to beat.

But you would think the GOP could find a candidate somewhere near the mainstream, here in blue Connecticut.

Even at the gathering of Republicans back in January, Hopkins-Cavanagh was decrying the "radical far left ideology" of Washington.

She suggested the Obama administration is going to take control of Connecticut zoning.

"Obama will decide what can or can't be built in your town," she said. "If you protest, your community will be punished and penalized for being racists."

Then, if not far enough on the fringe, she decried the nationalization of education and flung out the political F word to describe what's going on in the country.

"The definition of fascism is a regime which exalts nation and often race above an individual," Hopkins-Cavanagh rattled on. "And that stands for centralized autocratic government, headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation and forcible suppression of opposition."

Wow. Forcible suppression.

And when she was done she got a round of applause.

On her Facebook page, Hopkins-Cavanagh complains that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the Obama administration.

"Wake up! Pull your head out of the sand. The Brotherhood is a welcome guest at the White House and (Attorney General Eric) Holder and Obama work their sinister plans to destroy our country," she wrote on her Facebook page.

Wow. Sinister plans to destroy the country.

This is now the endorsed Republican candidate to represent eastern Connecticut in Congress.

In a recent interview with a reporter for The Day, Hopkins-Cavanagh proposed an alternative to Amtrak's New York-to-Boston route, which she said is "sucking the life out of the taxpayer." She proposes high-speed ferries.

Amtrak's Northeast Corridor carried 11 million passengers last year and operated at a profit. Ferries? Really? It takes over an hour just to get from New London to Block Island on New England's fastest boat, when the weather is with you.

She then complained that the generous welfare benefits in Connecticut are attracting the "poor or working poor or illegal."

In suggesting on her campaign website that a donation to her candidacy is a "message postmarked to the gun-grabbers in Washington," Hopkins-Cavanagh races right past mainstream GOP policy that mental illness, not guns, is a leading cause of gun violence.

"Gun violence is rarely caused by mental illness. Severely mentally ill people account for only 3 to 5 percent of violent crimes in the general population," Hopkins-Cavanagh wrote.

I don't think there is any chance of the Republican in the race catching up with the incumbent Democrat in fundraising. Courtney has a war chest with more than $1 million. Hopkins-Cavanagh has raised $71,000, including $51,000 of her own money, according to the latest federal filings.

It's too bad that Hopkins-Cavanagh, a Realtor, didn't decide to spend some of that money on the big building she has owned on State Street in New London for more than a decade, its empty and forlorn storefronts contributing to downtown blight.

Maybe that would have swayed a few more than 96 of those 4,500 New London voters.

This is the opinion of David Collins


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